Preface: Through the Darkness, There Came a Voice
Under the light of a full moon, in the nearby woods, there sat a clearing carved perfectly into a circle. The circular formation wasn't an intentional clearing from the parks department, but it was there nonetheless. For hundreds of years, it sat in this particular spot in these particular woods, unbeknownst to the locals of the town not but a short walk's distance away. It was not a spot mentioned on any map, spoken about from a single pair of lips, or glanced at for more than a moment's time. For these hundreds of years that passed, if not thousands, not a single tree grew there. It had not been for lack of trying, however. Over time, many a seed had been planted, many an animal had dropped various nuts and berries into the soil of this particular clearing. Because of this fact, only a certain subset of people ever dared utilize this clearing, and tonight, under the full moon, four individuals quietly hiked through the thick brush to reach it.
The dying heat of the summer sun still lingered in the air, a sure sign that summer was ending and a cold and brutal winter was fast on its way.
The group reached their destination and began to unpack supplies from large backpacks they carried. Candles, in varying sizes and shapes, were quickly set about the outskirts of the clearing, each one lit as if on their own the moment the circle was complete. From then, the group removed various bowls and bundles of herbs tied together by thin string and set them in the center. Following this, various stones were placed in a geometric shape, each stone having its own particular placement.
A dim hum set upon the air, electrifying the area in currents and waves.
The group met one another's eyes, still silent, and then set to work spreading about some kind of fine powder to cover the entire area inside the lit circle. The group sat then, each person's back precisely placed facing each of the four cardinal directions. Once they were all seated, the final pieces were removed from their backpacks. One large, leather-bound book was placed directly in the middle of the group and opened so that all may see the words inscribed there. A small black radio was placed next to the book and switched on. The sound of static filled the air, matching the intensity of the hum already present. The group joined hands as the radio static dimmed and a soft music began to play.
One clear voice spoke, seeming to dim all of the other noises and began to hum softly, chanting a phrase of words so familiar that they blended and mixed with each other, creating a pattern each person seemed to recognize, like a hymn from a long-forgotten church ceremony.
The glow from the candles seemed to grow even brighter, more intensely, as one by one, each member of the group joined in murmuring the sacred words. A soft wind picked up, lifting the falling leaves from the trees and swirling them in a tango that was as familiar to them as time is to a clock. As the chanting increased, growing faster with every phrase uttered, the hum changed, morphing into an electric buzz.
Finally, the chanting came to a stop. The wind suddenly stilled, the buzzing in the air quieted, the music stopped playing, and the group held their individual breaths.
Without warning, the fire that lit each candle shot into the air, creating a furious blaze that shocked the group. They released each other's hands, turning to look at the influx of energy. A strong wind blasted through the air, ruffling the pages until it stopped on one single passage. It was as if a hand was holding the book down and open to that particular page.
The man in the group lifted an eyebrow as he read the words that titled the page, "Instructions for Séances."
Someone had something to say.
A beat of silence hung in the air before a female voice in the group tentatively asked, "Is... anyone there?"
The wind stopped abruptly then, leaving the group suspended in a silence that seemed to stretch forever. The radio clicked once, twice, before a voice filtered through, softly, as if from very far away, "Please."
Then, once more, but softer than before, "Please."